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Cop blames lack of inspection for jailbreak

Published:Tuesday | December 1, 2015 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater

Western Bureau:

While negligence is being blamed for Monday's jailbreak at the Freeport Police Station in Montego Bay, the alleged failure of senior police personnel to carry out regular mandated inspections of the cell block is also being advanced as a contributory factor.

"Senior police personnel are mandated to make regular visits to the lock-up to ensure its structural integrity, but that is not being done," a police officer told The Gleaner yesterday on condition of anonymity. "While the blame might fall on the men who were on cell-block duties, the role of those who should be inspecting the facility should also be examined."

According to the police source, the prisoners found out that there were structural flaws in a hole behind a toilet bowl, and over time, they had seemingly widened it until it was big enough to facilitate their escape.


Digging for a while


"They must have been digging out the wall for quite a few days before it got big enough for them to go through," stated the policemen, who is theorising that the prisoners might have used the same toilet bowl to block, what they were doing from personnel visiting the cell block.

"If the inspections and search for weapons and contraband were being done as mandated, the plot might have been discovered before the men managed to escape," the policeman added.

While The Gleaner was not able to get any senior personnel to comment on the alleged lack of mandated inspections, Howard Deers of the St James Lay Magistrates Association (StJLMA), which makes monthly visits to the lock-up, said he was most surprised that the prisoners had escaped the facility.

"On our most recent visit, we saw nothing to suggest that the cell block was not fully secured," said Deers, adding that the StJLMA's mandate did not include doing an examination of the physical structure of the facility.

"While we do look around, our role is basically to ensure that the prisoners are housed under humane conditions, ensure that rights are not being breached, and, most important, that nobody is being held there without being properly accounted for.

"Personally, based on the level of security I see there when my team visits, I find it difficult to believe that the prisoners had escaped without being noticed," continued Deer. "It would be interesting to find out how they came by whatever implements they use to dig their way through the wall."

Yesterday, McGregor, who initially blamed negligence for the jailbreak, revealed that a team of top-level investigators would be going to Montego Bay from Kingston to probe the incident, which resulted in the escape of six dangerous prisoners, including a convicted double murderer.

McGregor also revealed yesterday that family members of two of the escapees had made telephone contact with the police, offering to help in facilitating the surrender of the men.